Your Local Dermatologist
Can Help With Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

What is Basal Cell Carcinoma and What Does It Look Like?

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most diagnosed form of skin cancer, with millions of cases each year in the U.S. It appears on the skin in a variety of sizes and shapes, such as dome-shaped growth with visible blood vessels, shiny patches, brown/black growths, sores, or white/yellow scar-like growths. 

Repeated sun exposure is a common cause of BCC, especially on the head, face, neck and hands. However, BCC can develop anywhere on the body. BCC rarely spreads, but early identification and treatment is still important. If left untreated, it can grow deeper and destroy skin tissue. 

Who Gets Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Everyone can get BCC, but it is more common with:

  • Those with lighter hair, skin and eyes (fair skin, red or blond hair, blue or green eyes).
  • Those who use indoor tanning devices.
  • Those who have Gorlin syndrome.
  • Those with a close blood relative who has or had skin cancer.
  • Those with a weaker immune system.

Exposure to UV rays through sunlight or tanning is the big factor. Prolonged exposure to the sun each day as you age, even driving in your car or sitting near your office window, can increase your risk of developing BCC.

Reducing Your Risk 

If you’ve been diagnosed with BCC, you’re also at risk for developing other skin cancers, such as melanoma. To prevent skin cancer development:

  • Dress appropriately in the sun. Wear lightweight and long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. 
  • Use shade. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Reapply sun screen every two hours or so, even on cloudy days, especially after swimming or sweating.
  • Be cautious around snow, sand and water. These reflect and intensify UV rays and increase the risk of sunburn.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Just one indoor tanning session can increase your risk for skin cancer.
  • Keep all your dermatologist appointments. When detected early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
  • Perform self-exams on your skin. Check yourself regularly for any growths or spots that seem questionable and keep track of moles and freckles.

Diagnosing and Treating Basal Cell Carcinoma

When found early, BCC is very treatable. Diagnosing is typically done with a skin biopsy. A skin tissue sample (usually part or all of the suspected BCC) will be taken and microscopically examined to confirm the presence of cancer cells. 

Treatment depends on where the BCC is located, the size of it and your overall health. Treatment options include:

  • Excision involves surgically removing the melanoma, as well as some of the normal-looking skin around the BCC. The removed tissue is then examined microscopically to determine if all cancer cells have been removed.
  • Mohs surgery is the most successful technique for eliminating skin cancer, with a 99% success rate. In this process, the cancer is removed layer by layer in one session until it’s gone. Dermatologists who have completed specialized training in Mohs surgery can perform this procedure.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage removes the cancer by scraping it from the skin (curettage) and then heating the area to destroy leftover cancer cells (electrodessication). 
  • Radiation treatments may be recommended if the patient cannot undergo surgery, the cancer is too aggressive for surgery alone or when surgery isn’t the best option. 
  • Cryosurgery destroys cancer cells by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.
  • Photodynamic therapy uses UV light along with a light-sensitive solution to destroy cancer cells.
  • Topical therapy can be prescribed and applied at home to destroy cancer cells.
  • Oral medication can also be prescribed to patients who have advanced BCC that can’t be cut out or removed with radiation, or in rare cases when the BCC has spread to other body parts.


A biopsy works by taking a small sample of tissue from a suspect area in the body so that it can be tested under lab conditions for certain diseases and disorders. Learn More


Excision is a minimally-invasive surgery technique used to remove moles, skin growths and lesions. Learn More


Imiquimod is a topical cream that stimulates the immune system. Learn More

Liquid Nitrogen Cryotherapy

Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy works by freezing and destroying the cells in a skin growth or lesion. Learn More


Mohs, or Mohs surgery, is a surgical technique used to treat skin cancer through the removal of skin lesions and growths. Learn More

Oral and Topical Medications

Dermatologists are experts in bacterial, viral and fungal infections in the skin and have a deep knowledge of how to best use antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal medications. Learn More

Surgical Removal Excursion

Surgical removal excursion is a minor surgical procedure used in the treatment of lower risk skin cancers. Learn More

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